Keston Center Mourns the Passing of Ambassador Roland Smith
Former British Ambassador Roland H. Smith CMG, member of the British Diplomatic Service from 1967 to 2002 and Vice Chair of the Keston Institute Council of Management, died unexpectedly at his home in Worthing on June 15, 2023. A memorial service will be held on July 18 (details forthcoming).
Ambassador Smith served as Great Britain's Deputy Ambassador to NATO from 1992-1995, Director for International Security in the Foreign Office from 1995-1998, and Ambassador to Ukraine from 1999-2002. Fluent in Russian and Ukrainian, he studied modern languages at Oxford, and his 35-year foreign service career included two posts at the Embassy in Moscow during the Soviet period and four years in Berlin while the city was divided by the wall.
Dr. Wallace Daniel, distinguished university professor of history at Mercer University, remembers Smith as "a perceptive and knowledgeable statesman who had a unique ability to bring together people of contentious political views and, among them, achieve a common purpose. In today's fractured world, he had a gentle, calm, and reassuring presence that made him such a capable ambassador to Ukraine and, undoubtedly, helped lay the groundwork for its independence and international prominence. A person who worked for common humanity, a staunch defender of democracy, and a foreign policy expert, Roland Smith devoted his life to these endeavors. We shall surely miss him."
He became a member of the Keston Council in 2003 and was serving as vice-chair in 2018 when he visited the Keston Center at Baylor University to attend the annual advisory board meeting. The following year, he participated on a panel at Baylor as part of the Global Business Forum, speaking on ethical issues in diplomacy.
"Roland Smith was a wise, balanced, and calm contributor to debates on Keston's Council of Management," said Council Chair Xenia Dennen. "I found I could always turn to him for advice, and saw him as my 'right-hand man' who was dedicated to Keston and its mission. I miss him most deeply."
Kathy Hillman, director of the Keston Center for Religion, Politics, and Society said of Smith, "He was always gracious with his expertise and generous with his time. We will miss his wisdom, kindness, vision, and faithfulness. Our prayers are with his wife, the Reverend Katherine Smith, his children, and his grandchildren."